Anne-Marie is a successful thirtysomething publicist who drops everything on a whim to wander through a hot Montreal summer with a mini DV camera asking passer-bys what happiness means to them. Some people willingly open up to her, others clam up, but in every case Anne-Marie feels she’s connecting with them in a way she didn’t in her previous life and she’s inspired to pursue her little survey.
One could make an interesting film out of this simple premise, but writer-producer-director François Delisle fails to do so. This is obviously a personal project, inspired by his own experience of asking random people on the street what makes them happy, but the final product is a pretentious movie full of empty film school flourishes and existential onanism.
Thankfully, the extraordinary Anne-Marie Cadieux and the haunting music of Ève Cournoyer provide moments of true vulnerability and emotion, culminating in a wonderful scene in which Cadieux sings along to Cournoyer’s “Aujourd’hui”. Overall, though, “le bonheur c’est une chanson triste” is a self-indulgent bore.